After producing just 19 sacks as a team in 2020, the Tennessee Titans know they need help in the pass rush department.
Aside from Harold Landry, who led the team with 5.5 sacks this season, no one else at the outside linebacker position should get too comfortable heading into next season regarding a roster spot.
The Titans approach here is probably going to have to be a two-fold approach to fixing the problem – something general manager Jon Robinson has been no stranger to when addressing problems with the club.
A few years ago when the Titans were sorely lacking at the cornerback position, Robinson made sure to address the spot both in free agency and the draft. He brought in Logan Ryan as a free agent from the New England Patriots to man a cornerback spot, and then spent a first-round draft choice on Adoree' Jackson to further bolster the position.
Robinson might have to take a similar approach to the outside linebacker spot in 2021. After missing in free agency last year with both Vic Beasley and Jadeveon Clowney, the Titans GM knows he is in a buyer beware situation when looking on the free agent market for pass rushers.
But both Beasley and Clowney came with previous issues, and those issues surfaced with both players and helped to wreck the Titans defense in 2020. Beasley's previous team, the Atlanta Falcons, showed absolutely no inclination toward bringing him back, despite the fact that he put up eight sacks in 2019.
And sure enough those red flags that the Falcons sent up on Beasley came home to roost when Beasley was late showing up to camp, netting him a $500,000 fine and then proved to be disinterested enough in what the Titans were doing that he was released halfway through the season.
Clowney's issues were more injury related, and there remains perhaps an outside chance that the Titans might re-up him at a bargain price. But Clowney's knee proved to be an issue and cut his season and his production well short of expectations.
In this year's free agent market, even the better pass rushers have issues. Bud Dupree of Pittsburgh suffered a torn ACL, which means there is no guarantee that he would be ready for the start of training camp.
Von Miller is a free agent and has been a superstar in the past, but he is 32 years old, has some potential legal issues pending and missed all of last season with an injury. With all that going on, Miller is probably not a very attractive possibility at this point.
There are some solid options available, but they will be pricey. Baltimore has two pass rushers that should be on Tennessee's radar in Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue, who is just 26 years old and would appear to still be in the prime of his career.
Shaq Barrett wreaked havoc for Tampa Bay in the NFC Championship Game and would be a difference maker in the short-term, but at 29 years old, any contract should probably be structured in a way to protect the team after the first couple of years of the deal.
Another player who could be worth a serious look is Trey Hendrickson, who had a career year with 13.5 sacks for the New Orleans Saints. At age 26, like Ngakoue, he should have productive years ahead of him.
But the truth is – as the Titans found out last off season – free agency is often a gamble, especially at high value positions like edge rusher, where a player's productivity can hit a wall at a certain age. Outside of Ngakoue and maybe Hendrickson, who teams would have to hope is not a one-year wonder, the market is filled more with older players who most likely won't be long-term answers.